Last year, the committee decided the evidence shows the nasal spray works well to protect against infection. But the committee left the issue unresolved because of questions about safety, especially about a slight risk of Asthma for children. Since then, the company has submitted thousands of pages of evidence in attempt to sway the experts.
One thing is for sure more people would be inclined to get a flu vaccine if it were a squirt up the nose, instead of a needle in the arm. "We know that about 15% of Americans and by the way, whether it is physicians or lay people are afraid of needles and will avoid immunization simply becasue of that fact," says Dr. Greg Poland of the Mayo Clinic.
That's important because complications from the flu are blamed for 20,000 to 40,000 deaths every year mostly among sick and older Americans.
Advocates say a nasal spray could make it easier to vaccinate large numbers of school aged children kids who might pass the flu bug on to high risk family members. But the question remains, is Flu-mist safe?
The manufacturer says it doesn't want the spray given to kids under age 5 and since Flu-mist contains a live virus, modified so it doesn't cause the illness, it can never be given to pregnant women or to people with compromised immune systems. People over age 65 will also need the shot instead of a spray for flu protection.
So, the nasal spray will never replace the shot, but, if approved, it will just make it easier for the majority of the population to get some protection.